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Dining In Style At Le Talleyrand

Le Talleyrand is probably one of those places that you’ve passed on your way to Hamra and overlooked, somehow because of its hidden locale. Perfectly nestled in Kantari, this restaurant is one of Beirut’s finest: the waiters are knowledgeable, the menu is designed to perfection, and the guests are beautiful as they are fashionable!

We arrived to Le Talleyrand shortly after 9.00 pm on a Saturday night. We were greeted by a smiling host who showed us to our table as we were directly asked if we prefer sparkling or still water. Moments later, our waiter arrived with the menu- which is pretty much a recto-verso one page thick cardboard featuring the restaurant’s offerings. French and Italian dishes dominated the menu, but our eyes quickly wandered off to the steak section.

 

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Our waiter- who was patient as he answered question after question about the meats and steaks- was extremely knowledgeable and provided his professional advice. I finally settled on the filet de boeuf while my date went for the entrecote. For sides, we had the French fries, sauteed vegetables, and potato dauphinois.

 

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We started our meal with two glasses of Italian white wine- I can’t recall the brand name, but I remember that its taste was divine. We split a house salad and made small talk as we were offered a variety of on-the-house crudites with their accompanying sauces and condiments.

 

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Shortly after, our steaks came and I can honestly tell you that Le Talleyrand really serves one of Beirut’s finest steaks. It was possibly one of the only times I did not have to return my steak to the kitchen for not being cooked “well-done”- this one was and it was cooked to absolute perfection!

 

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While we were too full to have dessert, we couldn’t resist not to taste Le Talleyrand’s Pain Perdu (which I’ve heard rave reviews about). I wasn’t really a fan of the caramel- it was too sweet for my taste, but the bread pudding was flawless and the accompanying vanilla ice cream was fresh and refreshing!

 

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All in all, our experience was truly that of a fine dining restaurant. I cannot keep stressing over and over again about the attentive and dedicated service that you receive here. Now that summer’s in full swing, make sure to book a table on the patio- I loved the combination of wooden/garden furniture with trees all around and a perfect marriage of light projectors to make your experience all the more special.

 

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Le Talleyrand is located on Fakhreddine Street, Kantari. For reservations, call 00961 1 371 500.

Meal for two with two glasses of wine: USD 200.

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The Top 10 Weirdest Looks From The 2015 Met Gala

Just like every year, Hollywood’s finest flock to New York’s MET for the annual MET Ball. Contrary to last year – when we didn’t witness any ground-breaking fashion moments, this year’s invitees religiously embraced the China: Through the Looking Glass theme as stars such as Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and others wowed in their custom designer wear. I’m sure you were bombarded with the best looks online all day yesterday, but what you probably haven’t seen are the downright outrageously weird outfits. Here’s a closer look:

Wearing head to-toe Prada, Olivia Wilde looked like she was ready to celebrate the Chinese New Year in this V-neck column studded purple gown. At first look, the gown seems interesting, but then Olivia had to go and ruin it by adding these opera gloves (also studded) and matching clutch (that was also studded too).

 

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Miley Cyrus‘ body is drowning somewhere in this Alexander Wang black dress with excessive side cutouts. As if this gown isn’t bad enough, she had to go and dye her hair ice blue. Personally, I would have preferred the mesh dress nipple-pasty wearing Miley instead of THIS.

 

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This is what happens when you take a theme TOO seriously! Katy Perry looks nothing like herself in- what I can only imagine- is a Pokemon? inspired Moschino gown.

 

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Solange Knowles usually never manages to steal big sis’ Beyoncé’s thunder, but in this case she has. Solange chose a custom-made Giles mini dress which was as weird as it was awesome!

 

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FKA Twigs sure loves mosaics. Robert Pattinson’s new fiancé strutted her stuff in a Christopher Kane multi-colored “Lovers Mosaic Design”. And have you heard? The internet found the penis on her dress. Can you?

 

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I’m not sure if Kerry Washington‘s bubble gum pink Prada gown belonged at the Met Ball. From the floral details, to the bow embellished shoulder straps, and not forgetting the green Mary Janes, Washington looks better suited to be handing out candy at the Disney Store.

 

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Instead of going all out for an elaborate Chinese inspired gown, Cara Delevigne let her body do the talking – literally. The British model paired her Stella McCartney jumpsuit- featuring a bra top and skinny pants, with countless floral body tattoos. Way to bend the rules Cara!

 

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Justin Beiber makes his return to the red carpet at the MET in a gold embellished suit jacket and black collarless shirt. Enough said.

 

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While Chloe Sevigny is known for her interesting? fashion choices, this time she took things to a whole new level. Her JW Anderson ensemble is just TOO busy, starting with the white bodice, to the forest skirt, and finishing with the red heels and “coiffed” blond hair.

 

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Even if you can get over the disastrous 80s inspired red Balamain gown, long fringed earrings, and shimmery gold belt, you can’t but notice how much Kris Jenner resembles Adam Lambert in this shot!

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All images are courtesy of People.com

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Salma Hayek is Coming to Beirut!

Yes all the rumors you heard are true!

The beyond stunning Salma Hayek will be in Beirut on April 27th, 2015 for the world premiere of her new animated movie, “The Prophet”. You read that correctly: the Lebanese capital will be hosting its first EVER world premiere at Beirut Souks’ Cinema City!

 

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The sexy Lebanese-Mexican actress has lent her voice to the movie’s leading character, Kamila and is also the Executive Producer of the picture. Hayek has long been a fan of the Lebanese writer, Gebran Khalil Gebran and is said to have been proud of finally transforming the story from a book to the big screen for the whole world to enjoy!

 

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Aside from Hayek’s impeccable acting skills, the much-loved actress is quite the fashionista and has been so since her early Hollywood days. Salma is always one to watch any time she hits the red carpet and steals the show with the dazzling silhouettes she wears along with the tasteful cleavage she puts on display. Red, black, fushia, and neutrals, Hayek has worn it all. She is also a designer favorite and has worn gowns by Balenciaga and Gucci, to name a few.

There’s no doubt that Salma will bring glitz and glam to Monday night’s red carpet; she will undoubtedly wow us with the gown she chooses to wear. So, just for fun, I’ve rounded up a selection of some of the hottest gowns from Lebanon’s finest designers; who knows, the actress might just choose to wear one of them on the big night!

In case Hayek decides to go for a Lebanese designer, Elie Saab may be on top her list! The world class designer presented a stunning Ready To Wear Spring 2015 collection inspired by the sea. The actress can choose a thigh high slit sky blue design with belt detail, a classic black plunging jumpsuit or a printed low-cut design. Salma can also go for a design from the Spring Summer 2015 Haute Couture collection; just take a look at this stunning Chartereuse confection with a full skirt and impeccable embroidery!

 

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Red has always been a favorite color of the fiery Hayek. At first look, this red jumpsuit by Zuhair Murad might look like business, but the delicate mesh details across the bodice add a little glam to the otherwise subdued design! The breath-taking actress can add sexy waves and a red lip to pump up the look!

 

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Wouldn’t you love to see Salma taking a huge risk thanks to one of Lebanon’s up and coming designers? This iridescent hand embroidered fringed cocktail dress is designed by Rami Kadi, as part of his new Les Illusions Exquises collection and would show off the actress’ toned legs perfectly!

 

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What do you think of my picks? Regardless, there’s no doubt that no matter what Salma Hayek chooses to wear, she will be on my best dressed list!

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Remembering Basil Soda

Lebanon lost one of its talented designers yesterday with the untimely death of the multi-talented Basil Soda.

 

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Soda- who began his journey as a couturier in 2000-  always expressed himself through his fashion sense that was inspired by his love for architecture. This passion was always reflected in his designs’ fine cut lines and details., for his work always displayed a romantic yet mysteriously dark side.

 

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As the years progressed, Soda gained international recognition on the world’s hottest red carpets and dressed the likes of Katy Perry, Giuliana Rancic, Paris Hilton, Marion Cottilard, and Morena Baccarin, among others.

 

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His beautiful creations were made available in Beirut, Hong Kong, Cannes, Dubai, Toronto, Taiwan, as well as other locations.

 

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The designer always declared that he wanted to provide women an escape from reality with his designs and he most certainly has! In memory of Basil Soda, designer, architect, artist, and dreamer..

 

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Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo! Cinderella Graces Harrods’ Windows

It’s a match made in heaven! Prior to the new Cinderella movie’s official release, giant retailer Harrods has teamed up with Disney to create 6 displays for the store’s windows display on Brompton Road in London. The displays feature 6 scenes including when Cinderella meets the Fairy God Mother as well as when her step sisters try on the glass slippers unsuccessfully in front of the prince.

 

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The gowns were created by the movie’s Oscar winning designer Sarah Powell while the glass slippers were courtesy of Swarovski. The glass slipper is further interpreted by several international shoe designers including Salvatore Ferragamo, Nicholas Kirkwood, Charlotte Olympia, Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman, among others.

 

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Several designs will be available for purchase in Harrods shoe heaven floor.

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The LUSH Experience: Creating a Fresh Face Mask for the Brand

I had the best time creating a catastrophe mask for Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics!

 

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Let’s rewind: Last Friday, I visited Lush in Beirut Souks to create one of the brand’s signature catastrophe blue-berry based masks. Mixing, grinding, and crushing the ingredients together was such a soothing experience, especially after a long work week!

 

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The mask is incredibly calming and perfectly moisturizes the skin. Packed with blueberries, calamine, chamomile, and almond oil, it soothes and softens the skin. You just need to smooth a generous layer onto your face, leave for 10-15 minutes, then rinse off with lukewarm water. It’s as simple as that!

 

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The best part is I packed and signed a few extra masks for all you readers to enjoy! All you need to do is head to LUSH in Beirut Souks in the coming few days and ask for your complimentary mask from Carmel + Vanilla for Lush!

 

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Many thanks to Mirna and Mavis from IPN for this super-fun idea and to Lina and the Lush team for being so welcoming!

 

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Don’t forget to follow Lush Lebanon on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to receive all their fresh updates!

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Oscars 2015: The Best & Worst Dressed List

Awards season wrapped up last night with the Oscars taking place in Los Angeles; and although the streets were flooded with unexpected rain, Hollywood’s elite still made it onto the red carpet in their fancy designer wear. Here’s a closer look at the night’s best and worst dressed.

Dakota Johnson wows in the night’s hottest color- red; the 50 Shades of Grey actress wore a stunning one-shouldered Saint Laurent featuring a knotted accent. She accessorized with 2.2 million dollars worth of Forever Mark diamonds and though she should have opted for another hairstyle, it’s nice to see that the young actress stayed true to her personality and went for a simple ponytail.

 

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Marion Cotillard is a vision of class in a demure white- you guessed it- Dior. The French actress accessorized with statement Chopard diamond hoop earrings and understated make-up.

 

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Another actress who wowed in red was Rosamund Pike. The sexy Gone Girl brings so much glitz and glam in a strapless Givenchy featuring a mid-thigh slit. She matches her dress with strappy shoes and keeps her hair and makeup simple. Simply stunning!

 

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The always sexy Margot Robbie sizzles in a plunging black Saint Laurent. The Aussie beauty adds red lips and a STATEMENT Van Cleef & Arpels necklace that can literally be seen from Australia!

 

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Jessica Chastain is all va-va-va voom in a custom navy and black sequined Givenchy gown. The stunning actress is all smiles showing ample cleavage and a sexy side slit while walking the carpet last night.

 

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Leggy beauty Chrissy Tiegan wows in Zuhair Murad; saying that she “loooves Zuhair”, the model once again went to the Lebanese designer who put her in a plunging, thigh-high drop-dead gorgeous gown! She upped the sexy by going for a dark lip and a sexy blow-out.

 

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This season’s awards show leading lady, Julianne Moore, is a white vision in custom Chanel. Yes, Karl Lagerfeld designed this breath-taking strapless for the red-haired actress that took over 900 hours to make. Chopard diamonds completed the winning look!

 

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Reese Witherspoon keeps things simple- in a good way- in a black and white color block off-the shoulder Tom Ford gown. She kept her hair down and added tons of diamonds to accentuate her look.

 

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My absolute favorite from the night was non other than Jennifer Aniston! The sexy actress- can you believe she just turned 46?!- surprised everyone by staying away from her go to black dresses and instead, opted for this stunning structured custom sweet-heart neckline Versace. Jennifer let the dress do the talking and kept her accessories to a minimum- her signature blond locks also flowed as she walked the carpet.

 

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I feel bad for Felicity Jones, I really do. Everyone is talking about how she intended to look like a “modern-day Cinderella” and instead, the Brit is ending up on worst dressed lists thanks to this halter, full ruched skirt ice blue Alexander McQueen fail. It’s really hard to believe that the brand’s creative director, Sarah Burton has been working on this dress since December, for the color is completely off and there are just TOO many details to focus on here. Adding insult to injury are Felicity’s severely blunt bangs which conceal her eyes and really make her look like a blast from a past British history book.

 

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Spring came early according to Gwyneth Paltrow. I have mixed emotions towards this powder pink custom Ralph & Russo gown: while Gwyneth’s body is breath-taking, that huge flower on her left shoulder is just too much. Gwyneth, next year, leave your flowers in a vase. At home.

 

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Taking a page out of Heidi Klum’s book, Scarlet Johanssen wore a choker to compliment her Atelier Versace gown last night. The entire look is just too matchy matchy- I don’t appreciate how the necklace is almost chocking Scarlet and I am not a fan of this fabric.

 

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Did you hear? Nicole Kidman got her red belt in karate and she wants the whole world to know it! Is there another reason for adding this “belt” to this otherwise disastrous Louis Vuitton strapless gown?

 

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It’s rather unbelievable to see Zoe Saldana look this good less than 3 months after delivering twins- almost as unbelievable as seeing her opt for a high-school prom-like Versace gown. Although the color is amazing against her skin, those spaghetti straps are so distracting to the eye. The curly haired updo is also a major fail.

 

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Lady Gaga wants to show you that she’s just like the rest of us: she too does the dishes in red gloves and sometimes forgets to take them off before leaving the house. Any other explanation for ruining a custom-made Alaia gown that took over 10 weeks to make? Nope? Didn’t think so!

 

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All images courtesy of People.com and Hollywood Life.

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Chasing a Dream with Elie Saab

It was supposed to be another star-studded Spring-Summer show for Elie Saab in Paris yesterday. Except this fashionable affair was unlike any other in the designer’s history! As each model strutted down the catwalk, a story about Beirut’s golden age was reflected from the dress she wore; stories about the city that never slept, endless parties, eternal beauty and youth, and a personal reverie of Saab‘s mother wearing a tulip print dress.

 

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This is Elie Saab in all his glory; exploring new patterns and colors, introducing feathers to his collections, reviving low heeled satin sandals, putting on an elaborate show- as if from a fairytale, and ultimately, paying homage to his Beirut!

 

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Now, let the pictures do the rest of the talking..

 

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All images courtesy of style.com

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Best & Worst Dressed at the 2015 SAG Awards!

It was a night of glitz and glamour as actors honored their fellow actors in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Here are the most memorable gowns from the evening along with those we all really want to forget!

Although this look is nowhere close to her breath-taking sighting 2 weeks ago, Julianne Moore dazzles once again in Givenchy. Although I’m not a fan of the tank top design and the somewhat messy hair, the emerald color is simply stunning and the intricate beading is flawless, and those purple Chopard earrings are not so bad either!

 

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Reese Witherspoon continues her winning red carpet streak and shows up in a custom-made Giorgio Armani white one-sleeved gown. The blond beauty adds major bling thanks to 3.5 million dollars worth of Harry Winston diamonds.

 

 

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Modern Family’s Julie Bowen makes her return to the red carpet thanks to a flawless design by George Hobeika. The flirty floral patterned design hugs the actress’ frame and compliments it perfectly.

 

 

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Red carpet darling Naomi Watts wows in an off-the-shoulder navy Balenciaga gown. Once again, the actress flaunts her perfect diamonds from the BVLGARI along with a matching clutch from the Italian brand.

 

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The stunning Khaleesi- also known by her real name, Emilia Clarke walks the carpet with so much sophistication and poise. The uber sexy Brit stuns in a black and navy Donna Karan gown and perfect Cartier jewels.

 

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Jennifer Aniston gives Sofia Vergara a run for her money and takes a deep plunge in a vintage Galliano paisley print gown. The “Cake” actress adds her favorite gold body chain and goes for a blow-dry that just works.

 

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In turn, newly engaged Sofia Vergara drops jaws in a killer Donna Karan Atelier red corset and flowing train combo. The Modern Family actress kept her hair simple and accessorized with her stunning engagement sparkler.

 

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Emma Stone is an absolute winner on the red carpet! She takes a major risk and shows up in a Dior Haute Couture tuxedo jacket dress that is absolutely flawless! The actress keeps her hair and make-up simple and slips into a pair of sexy strappy Louboutins to complete her Best Dressed look.

 

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Felicity Jones chose a beautiful Balenciaga design for the SAGs. It’s too bad that she selected a powder pink version of the gown, because the color completely washes her out.

 

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Claire Danes may not be the train-wreck she was at the Golden Globes, but that doesn’t make her look any better. This Marc Jacobs halter design could have interesting if it weren’t for that busy contrasting belt and stone accents on the sides- yes stone accents!

 

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If you’re feeling an intolerable urge to rip-off Julia Roberts‘ weird looking satin-like pelvis? “pockets”, rest assured, you’re not alone. Roberts’ Givenchy jumpsuit’s tailoring is completely off and those black peep-toes look one size too big/worn out!

 

 

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Keira Knightley: still pregnant, still on the worst dressed list. Although the shade of purple of this Erdem gown is amazing against her skin-tone, Knightley once again chooses to hide her baby bump under layers and layers of unnecessary fabric! Impatiently waiting for this once fashion icon and Chanel darling to wow us again!

 

 

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And last but not least, Modern Family’s Ariel Winter brings the teenage cleavage to the SAGs red carpet courtesy of a winter white Zac Posen gown. Mind you, the actress is only 16 years old and although I read somewhere that she has trouble dressing for her body type, this look is too much dress and a whole lot of face paint for someone who is obviously going out on a school night!

 

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Carmel + Vanilla is 2 Years Old!

Carmel + Vanilla turned 2 yesterday! It seems like it was just a few days ago that I found myself wondering whether it was the right time or not to start a fashion and lifestyle blog. It’s amazing how fast time flies, right? In retrospect, I’m so happy to see my young blog grow and expand to more readers as the days pass. So, to celebrate, I’m turning back time and sharing my favorite 5 posts fro the past two years with you. Read on to discover more!

 

Best and Worst Dressed and The Post that Started it All!

I’m beyond obsessed with E!’s red carpet coverage shows. Long before Carmel + Vanilla even existed, I used to tune in until 3.00 am to watch what my favorite celebrities wore to the red carpet. In fact, this blog kicked off with a Best Dressed post, following the 2013 Golden Globe Awards. Go down memory lane with me and read the post here.

 

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A Rewarding Experience and Giving Back at an Elderly Home:

Sometimes we get caught up in our issues and forget how truly blessed and lucky we are to have family and friends who are there to support us through thick and thin. In the summer of 2013, I visited an elderly home in Mansourieh in hopes of bringing smiles to those who might have lost hope in life. This day was truly inspirational and invite you to read about it here.

 

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Discovering Charbel Zoe and My Most Viewed Post Ever:

I remember that day like it were yesterday. On Thursday, June 12th, 2014- as I was in pain way over my head with a severe case of streptococcus- Jennifer Lopez appeared on TV at the opening of the 2014 World Cup in a drop dead gorgeous leotard. Who was the designer? I just had to find out! Turns out it was Lebanese newcomer Charbel Zoe and it wasn’t even the first time he collaborated with the hot Latina. This information inspired my most viewed post ever, entitled: 4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Lebanese Designer behind JLo’s Outfit at the World Cup Opening Ceremony! I’m thrilled to see how   mega successful Charbel has become, even opening his own boutique on Melrose last month!

 

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Dining in Style – Everywhere!

While having dinner at the Four Seasons in early February 2013, I decided to start a “Dining in Style” section on Carmel + Vanila. The culinary experiences that I shared with friends and family were largely documented on the blog in this section. Here’s to more yummy food in the coming year!

 

 

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Meeting an International Lebanese Designer: One-on-One with Rabih Keyrouz:

It was a dream come true! I couldn’t believe how down to earth and inspirational Rabih Keyrouz was. It was a delight and a pleasure to meet him over a signature cup of pomegranate juice in his atelier in Beirut in 2014. Read my interview with him here.

 

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A big thank you goes out to everyone who encouraged me to carry on and write on a continuous basis. Special thanks to Ralph who is my go-to blog tech-guru- I couldn’t do it without you!

Here’s to another year of blogging!